Late Season Solitude


By this time of year most anglers have hung up their waders for the season.  Many are out chasing deer and elk in the mountains, following their bird dogs out on the plains, or simply waiting for ski season to start.  If you head out fishing these days you are likely to have the whole river to yourself, and the fishing is still good.

Make no mistake, I am not talking about dawn till dusk bang’em up fishing like June or July but if you adjust your approach the odds of a successful outing are high.  This is the time of year when you need to pick your days wisely.  If you are dead set on fishing a particular day then you might find yourself reaching for a whiskey flask during a snowstorm instead of reaching for your net.

Be prepared for anything

Be prepared for anything.

Days with high temps above freezing, or better yet into the 40’s typically fish best.  Also, cloud cover overnight will help hold the heat and keep nighttime temps warmer which will allow a longer window of activity the following day.  Even with all those factors in your favor still plan on only 3-4 hours of quality fishing in the afternoons.

Tactics change this time of year too.  Dry flies and streamers start to take a backseat to heavy nymphs under a strike indicator.  It may not be the most desirable way to fish, but it produces results especially in the late fall.

Dries and streamers will still take fish although the window of opportunity is usually short and sweet.  Die-hard anglers often rig two separate rods for late season fishing.  The primary rod is strung with a double nymph rig and the other rod is set-up with either a dry or streamer.  When the trout are active you don’t want to waste time changing flies, and having two rods rigged allows you to take advantage of any opportunity.

Clark Fork bow on a nymph pattern

Clark Fork bow on a nymph pattern.

Knowing where to fish also pays big dividends during the late season.  Water temperatures have dropped and trout seek out slower sections of the river where they don’t have to work as hard.  The fast, oxygenated water that held trout all summer is virtually vacant now while mid-depth riffles and slower glides can be stacked full of trout.

If you need your trout fishing fix there are no shortage of options.  Rock Creek is always a consistent producer this time of year.  Nymphs and streamers are effective on those post spawn brown trout.

Wading into the late season Bitterroot

Wading into the late season Bitterroot.

The middle Bitterroot is another great option.  Boasting the areas highest water temps you will find more active trout looking for nymphs with good prospects of afternoon dry fly fishing.

The Clark Fork is the easy local option with some great riffles for nymphing and big flats with rising fish most days.

Fall Colors

Fall Colors.

The Blackfoot is generally the least productive option during the late season, however certain runs get absolutely loaded with trout.  If you discover one of those gems the nymphing can be phenomenal.

Solitude and solid fishing is what this time of year is all about.  Get on the water if you can and savor what all those fair weather anglers are missing out on.

Tight Lines,

–Tony Reinhardt


Tony Reinhardt BioTony Reinhardt is the owner, outfitter for Montana Trout Outfitters in Missoula.  He has been a guide on the rivers of western Montana for 16 years and absolutely loves his job.  When he’s not working you’ll find him fishing with his two children or in the woods hunting.